On our first full day here, we met with Fatima, Clelia, Ruth, Margarita, and Mercedes, who together form the team at Pastoral de la Salud. On the top floor of Pastoral’s office building, the women gave us an overview of how Pastoral is structured and how this setup helps them enable individuals to improve the health of their communities.
Pastoral de la Salud is part of the Archdioceses of El Salvador’s social services. Located in the heart of the medical district in San Salvador, they share an office building with the Tutela Legal and Pastoral de la Tierra. Pastoral works in all three departments of the country; San Salvador, Cuscatlán, and La Libertad and the projects in each department are overseen by Mercedes, Clelia or Ruth, while Fatima is a medic. The child nutrition workshops we’ve been funding this year are taking place in Ruth’s department of La Libertad, where, according to Margarita, some of the poorest communities in the country are located.
The majority of Pastoral’s work is done through holding workshops for community health workers (promotores) who replicate the process with a team of volunteers in their own communities. In this way, community members take control of their own health by sharing the information they have learned from the workshops. Pastoral works with 35 parishes in 59 communities in 32 municipalities to educate the people on topics such as first aid, the human right to health, how to survey the health of communities, hygiene, nutrition, and disease prevention. 145 community health workers and 475 members of health committees volunteer their time to both attend and then share these workshops because, as one community health worker told us, they see a need and want to fill it.